With over twenty years and ten albums to their name, Texas alt-country stalwarts Old 97’s are excited to release their eleventh LP, Graveyard Whistling, out now. The album’s first single “Good with God” features Grammy nominated singer Brandi Carlile as the voice of God. “It’s not bad company—her, George Burns, and Morgan Freeman,” jokes lead singer and songwriter, Rhett Miller.
The album was recorded in the same Tornillo, Texas studio as their major label debut back in 1996, Too Far To Care. The band also still contains its original four members – Miller, guitarist Ken Bethea, bassist Murry Hammond, and drummer Philip Peeples. “The time-travel element can’t be overstated,” says the singer. “It was a beautiful feeling of completing a circle—we’re the same people, but we had grown so much as band mates and friends. It really made me believe in the power of experience and that you do get better with time.”
While there are new collaborators on Graveyard Whistling, including Nicole Atkins and Butch Walker, there aren’t more than a handful of bands in history who can claim to have an intact, unchanged line-up as they approach twenty-five years together. There is, of course, no real blueprint or rulebook for sustaining the kind of chemistry that Miller, Bethea, Hammond, and Peeples enjoy.
“I think our longevity can be attributed primarily to our friendship and ability to overcome those moments when egos want to overtake and obliterate everything in their path,” says Miller. “We experienced the hype of the old business model, with all of its excess and idiocy, and also the deconstruction of that model and the advent of the new world, and been able to maintain a fundamental love for each other.